Thomas Heywood

(revision of II Hercules of 1595?)


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Brother of Pretus, he has usurped the throne of Argus, but been defeated by Bellerophon, and imprisoned in the brazen tower he built to confine his daughter Danae. His sentence of death is lifted by the return of Bellerophon with Danae's son Perseus from their conquest of Chimera. The heroes slay Pretus and Aurea and restore Acrisius as a kind of over-king or chairman of the board while Perseus assumes the day-to-day management. But a visit to his tower by his son ends in a confused brawl in which Perseus inadvertently kills him. Pursuant to an earlier oracle, he is turned to stone.


One of the judges in Hades, he participates in the debate over the fate of Proserpine.


Alternative name for Hercules.


The wife of the Theban hero Amphitrio, she is loved through a three-night night by Jupiter in the form of her husband, and conceives the hero Hercules. When the real Amphitrio returns she mocks him as an imposter, but accepts him back when Jupiter reveals what happened. The jealous Juno takes revenge by preventing Alcmena from giving birth, so that she suffers terrible labor pains for three days. With Galantis' aid the spell is broken, and she gives birth to Hercules and to Amphitrio's son, Ipectetes. The latter is killed by Juno's poisonous snakes, but the former slays them instead, and survives to become a great hero.


This Theban general returns from a foreign victory too late to prevent the liaison of his wife with Jupiter. He and his servant Socia are mocked as imposters by the household, until Jupiter reveals his disguise and urges the mortal to forgive his wife and the other servants.


She is traveling with her new husband, Perseus, toward a meeting with his family, when they encounter Bellerophon, and she is sent on to Argos with Danaus while Perseus accompanies Bellerophon to battle the Chimera.


One of the centaurs invited to the wedding of Hypodamia and Perithous, his attempt to kiss Hypodamia iniates the quarrel with the heroes. In the battle that follows he is killed.


This river-nymph tells Ceres about Pluto's abduction of Proserpine.


A "ghost character," Juno's hundred-eyed watchman, lamented by Juno in her diatribe against Semele.


A servant of Pluto, he testifies that Proserpine has eaten part of a pomegranate and thus must remain with Pluto in Hades.


Queen to King Pretus, Aurea loves Bellerophon, but accuses him to her husband of trying to rape her hoping thereby to force him to accept her love. When he continues to reject her she urges his banishment. But when he returns, triumphant, he and Perseus kill her, in part because she has urged her husband to condemn Acrisius to death.


The infant son of Jupiter and Semele, Bacchus is rescued by his father from his mother's womb as she is being destroyed by the overwhelming force of divine love.


At the outset of the play this hero has helped King Pretus defend the throne of Argos against the tyrannical Acrisius, but is falsely accused of attempted rape by Queen Aurea. He declines either to accept her love or to charge her with unchastity, and for his honorable behavior is banished and sent to battle the Chimera. On the way he meets Perseus, with whose help he overcomes the monster. They return to Argos, slay Pretus and Aurea, and restore Acrisius. But when Perseus accidentally kills his grandfather Acrisius, Bellerophon is installed as king of Argos.


Semele's aged nurse, whose likeness Juno assumes to persuade Semele that in order to prove that he is truly Jupiter the god must put off his mortal disguise and make love to her in his own divine form.


A "ghost character," King of the Lapithes, Brisus is mentioned in the drinking bout of the heroes and centaurs at the wedding of his daughter Hypodamia.


The captain of Amphitrio's ship, he participates in the confusions unleashed by Jupiter and Ganimede when they take the forms of Amphitrio and Socia.


A "ghost character." Pluto recounts the defeat of this hundred-handed giant during the giants' struggle against Jupiter.


A "ghost character," King of Thebes and father of Semele, mentioned by Iris in her report of Semele's seduction by Jupiter.


The three-headed dog who guards the entrance to the underworld, he kills Perithous and wounds Theseus as they are attempting to rescue Proserpine, but is defeated and bound by Hercules.


Goddess of fertility, she and her daughter Proserpine bless the earth with grain and flowers; during a brief separation, the girl is carried off by Pluto, and Ceres vainly asks Mercury, Triton, and Earth to tell her where she is; when they cannot, she vows to blast the earth with infertility. She learns from Arethusa of Pluto's rape, and recruits Hercules to rescue the girl. When he is only restrained by the arguments of Rhadamanth from carrying her back to earth, she agrees to abide by the judgment of the planetary divinities that Proserpine shall be with her while the moon is full and with Pluto while the moon is dark.


A Centaur, invited to the wedding of Hypodamia and Perithous, presumably killed in the battle.


A centaur, invited to the feast of Perithous and Hypodamia, killed in the battle.


These lasses join the swains in singing tributes to Ceres.


Son of Danae and half-brother of Perseus, he accompanies Andromeda to Argos while her husband is helping Bellerophon defeat Chimera, and there participates in overthrowing Pretus and restoring Acrisius, then leaves for Naples to join his mother.


A "ghost character," wife of Acrisius, who incarcerated her in a brazen tower to protect her from Jupiter's amorous pursuit. She was nevertheless made pregnant by the god, then sent to sea in a mastless boat with her infant children, Perseus and Danaus. In the play, her sons propose to introduce Andromeda to her in Naples, where she lives as wife of Pelonnus, but they return to Argos instead to restore Acrisius, .


On Ceres' behalf, Earth or Tellus seeks the lost Proserpina all over the world, but to no purpose.


A "ghost character," one of Jupiter's mortal mistresses, mentioned by Juno in her diatribe against Semele.


Perseus' grandson and King of Argos (though not so specified in Heywood's text), Euristeus raises Hercules in his household, and at Juno's urging sets the hero his celebrated labors.


A centaur, invited to the wedding of Hypodamia and Perithous, killed in the battle.


Though they do not speak, the three sisters are witnesses in Hades of the settlement of the dispute over Prosperpine.


These dire spirits are among the mute onlookers in Hades during the attempt to rescue Proserpine.


Alcmena's shrewd midwife, Galantis diagnoses the crossed legs of Juno disguised as an old woman as the cause of her employer's inability to give birth, and thus makes it possible for Hercules to be born.


Jupiter's cupbearer, he takes the shape of Socia, Amphitrio's servant, in order to forward Jupiter's dalliance with Alcmena. When the real Socia arrives, predictable confusion follows, but Ganimed knows enough of the affairs of Socia and Amphitrio to sustain the deceit through several episodes. He takes special pleasure in refusing Amphitrio access to the general's own house.


A member of the Argive court, he announces the return of Bellerophon with Perseus.


A "ghost character," cupbearer to the Olympian gods, Jupiter compares her with Semele as the latter tries to inveigle him to come to her in his full divinity.


Son of Jupiter and Alcmena, when still an infant he kills the snakes sent by Juno to kill him. He grows to manhood; returning in triumph from the Olympic games, he boasts of his readiness to undertake the series of daunting tasks set for him at Juno's urging by his king, Euristeus. He kills the Nemean lion and the Eremanthian boar, leads the heroes in their victory over the centaurs at the wedding of his friend Perithous, then agrees to attempt to rescue Proserpine from Pluto. He arrives at the gates of Hades too late to prevent Cerberus from killing Perithous and wounding Theseus, but defeats the giant dog and then harrows the underworld. Confronted by Pluto's forces, he defeats them, rescues Prosperpine, and threatens the god himself, but is restrained by the arguments of Rhadamant.


Wounded by the Nemean Lion, he inspires Hercules to hunt that beast.


A centaur, invited to the wedding of Perithous and Hypodamia, killed in the battle.


A "ghost character," a beautiful youth, to whom Juno likens Jupiter disguised for his seduction of Semele.


The blind poet acts as the play's chorus, pronouncing the prologue and epilogue and narrating events such as the death of Acrisius and Jupiter's seduction of Semele to introduce each new episode of the play.


Princess of the Lapithes and Perithous' bride, her beauty provokes the centaur Antimachus to offer her a kiss, which turns her wedding feast into a deadly fray.


A "ghost character," one of Jupiter's mortal mistresses, mentioned by Juno in her diatribe against Semele.


At Juno's behest, Iris transports two serpents from Africa to Thebes to kill the infant Hercules. From her cloud she recounts to Juno the chase of the Nemean lion, and later tells her about Jupiter's seduction of Semele; she looks on with Juno to see the girl destroyed.


A "ghost character"; Hercules, triumphant in Hades, proposes to rescue this tyrant from his perpetual torment on the wheel.


An intriguing "ghost character," mentioned by Jupiter as he prepares to enjoy his long night with Alcmena, explaining that this action accounts for the stoppage of the sun above Jericho.


Infuriated by Jove's affair with Alcmena, she descends with Iris to break it off, proposes to punish her mortal rival, and disguises herself as an old woman. As she sits, her crossed legs prevent the laboring Alcmena from giving birth for three terrible days, until Juno is beguiled by Galantis into standing up and so undoing the spell. She sends two poisonous snakes to kill the babies; they dispatch Amphitrio's son Ipectetes, but are in their turn slain by Jupiter's son Hercules. After the hero has become a young man, she persuades Euristeus, King of Argos, to set him a series of mortally dangerous tasks. When the quarrel between the heroes and centaurs at the wedding of Perithous and Hypodamia breaks out, her furious interjection turns a mere barroom scuffle with stools and cups into an armed combat in which all the centaurs except Nessus are slain. Learning from Iris of Jupiter's affair with Semele, she disguises herself as the girl's nurse, Beroe, and persuades the princess to request that Jupiter make love to her in his full divinity; she exults as the foolish mortal is consumed by the thunderbolts of Jupiter's love.


Enamored of the mortal Alcmena, Jupiter assumes the shape of her husband, Amphitrio, and stops the sun's progress for three days to give himself a long night of dalliance (in passing, accounting for the correspondingly long day of Joshua's battle against Jericho). When the real Amphitrio returns while the divine imposter is still in Thebes, much comic confusion ensues, which rises to a climactic confrontation in which Jupiter and Ganimed are adjudged real and Amphitrio and Socia fake. But the god apologizes, urges the mortal to forgive his wife and servants, and announces that all will be well. In dumb-show, disguised as a huntsman, he seduces Semele. Beguiled by Juno, Semele charms him into promising to grant his request; he is appalled when she asks him to make love to her in his divine form, but must comply. As his thunderbolts are consuming her he snatches their child Bacchus from the fire. Summoned with the other gods to judge the dispute between Pluto and Ceres over the fate of Proserpine, he announces the compromise that gives each of them part-time custody of the spirit of springtime.


An unnamed Greek monarch who praises Hercules for his triumph at Olympia.


A "ghost character," mentioned by Semele as one of Jupiter's previous paramours.


A pair of chambermaids make bawdy comments about Semele and her woodland lover just before the princess's catastrophic encounter with Jupiter in his majesty.


The warrior god joins his fellows to judge the dispute over custody of Proserpine.


On Ceres' behalf Mercury vainly searches the heavens for the missing Proserpina, and joins with the other gods to decide the dispute over Proserpine.


The only centaur to survive the battle with the heroes, he flees, thus setting up the fatal encounter with Hercules in a subsequent play.


Juno in disguise, this old woman keeps her knees crossed and thus prevents Alcmena from giving birth. But Galantis penetrates the plot, and by a cunning subterfuge beguiles the goddess into standing up and so releasing the spell.


Honored with Hercules at Olympia, Perithous accompanies Alcides to hunt the Nemean Lion, and then invites the hero to attend his marriage to Hypodamia. The drunken lust of the centaurs turns the wedding feast into a battle; victorious, he joins Hercules in the rescue of Proserpine. But when he battles with Cerberus before Hercules arrives he is slain.


Returning from his conquest of the Gorgon with his brother half-Danaus, he proposes to introduce his bride, Andromeda, to his mother Danae. En route, they meet Bellerophon, and Perseus, thinking himself rightful heir of Argos, in incensed to learn that Pretus has seized the throne. But he agrees to help Bellerophon against the Chimera first, then assail the pretender. The monster dealt with, they go to Argos, kill Pretus and Aurea, and restore Acrisius as a kind of over-king, but in a confused scuffle at the entrance to Acrisius' brazen tower Perseus kills his grandfather.


Philoctetes shares Hercules' honors at Olympia, and accompanies the Theban hero to the wedding of their friend Perithous, where he participates in the battle with the centaurs and from there to Hades, where he joins Hercules in the rescue of Proserpine.


A "ghost character," a she-centaur, beloved of Cillarus, mentioned and then toasted in the conversation prior to the battle.


The sun god joins with his celestial fellows to adjudicate the dispute over Proserpine.


King of the underworld, he is overwhelmed by the beauty and charm of Proserpine, seizes her, and carries her below ground to be his queen. Hercules defeats him and his minions and is preparing to carry the girl back to Ceres, but Rhadamanth intervenes; the celestial gods in counsel judge that Pluto and Ceres will take turns enjoying the company of the moon-goddess, and Pluto accepts their decision.


King of Argos, he begins the play having triumphed over his brother, Acrisius, with the help of Bellerophon, but when his wife Aurea falsely charges his champion with attempted rape, he banishes Bellerophon and commands him to fight the Chimera. Fearful of his ability to retain his unlawful throne, he has just condemned Acrisius to die when Bellerophon returns with Perseus; the heroes kill him and his treacherous wife.


Daughter of Ceres and Jupiter, this exquisite personage is figured in this play as the moon. During a brief separation from her mother, with whom she joins in blessing the earth with fruits and flowers, she arouses the love of Pluto, who seizes her and carries her to Hades to be his consort. There she mourns, but does eat a few grains of a pomegranate and thus condemns herself to remain underground. Hercules rescues her, but is stayed by Rhadamantus from taking her back to her mother. On behalf of the other planetary gods, Jupiter decrees that she will henceforth divide her time between light and dark, consorting with her mother when the moon is full and with Pluto when it is occluded.


Rhadamantus (dramatis personĉ) or Rhadamant (text), who judges the dead in Hades, rebukes Hercules for violating the due order of the universe: by challenging Pluto's ordinance in Hades the young hero threatens to return things to primal chaos and wipe out distinctions between good and bad. Hercules is chastened, and agrees to abide by the judgment of the planetary gods.


The morose god comments sourly during the adjudication of Pluto's and Ceres' dispute over which shall have the company of Proserpine.


Daughter of Cadmus and princess of Thebes, she is seduced and impregnated by Jupiter disguised as a huntsman. Her vanity makes it easy for Juno, disguised as the nurse Beroe, to persuade her that in order to prove that he is really the god and not just a human imposter, Jupiter must make love to her in the same form in which he goes to bed with Juno. Her mortal frame cannot withstand the god's full power, and she is consumed, though the god manages to rescue their child, Bacchus, from the flames.


The planetary divinities gather in Hades to adjudge the dispute between Pluto and Ceres for custody of Proserpine, and make wry or grim comments as the trial proceeds.


A "ghost character." In the aftermath of his conquest of Hades, Hercules boasts, he will bring Sisiphus' rolling stone to a halt.


Arriving home before his master Amphitrio, this dim-witted servant meets Ganimed disguised as himself, and communicates the resulting confusion to Amphitrio to great comic purpose.


These rustics and their female counterparts sing tributes to Ceres.


A "ghost character"; as Hercules is exulting over the forces of darkness he announces his plan to feed this perpetually frustrated convict.


The name by which the list of dramatis personĉ refers to the personified Earth.


This prince of Athens is honored by Hercules at Olympia, and accompanies him on the hunt of the Nemean lion and the Erimanthean boar. He then goes with Philoctetes to stand by Perithous when the latter is married to Hypodamia, and after the battle with the centaurs accompanies Hercules to rescue Prosperpine. Daring to attack Cerberus before Hercules arrives at the gates of the underworld, he is wounded, but survives to accompany Hercules in the harrowing of Hades.


Alcmena's servant, who helps support her mistress's account of the night with Jupiter disguised as Amphitrio.


At Ceres' request, this god searches the seas for the missing Proserpine, but in vain.


A "ghost character"; Pluto describes how the struggles of this giant, buried alive by Jupiter under ranges of mountains, explain earthquakes.

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